Nutritive Value: Okra is commonly called bhendi or ladies fingers and is a favorite vegetable which is an excellent source of iodine that can effectively cure goiter. Okra contains 90 percent water, 6.4 percent carbohydrates, 1.9 percent proteins and 1.2 percent fibers, 0.7 percent minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iodine, potassium, iron and sulphur, and is rich in vitamins A and C.
Soil and Climate: Light loamy soil is good for okra cultivation. Okra can be grown successfully in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. It is a deep rooted warm season vegetable crop. Seeds fail to germinate at temperatures below 20 °C. Crop is susceptible to frosty cold climates.
Important Varieties: Pusa Sawani, Arka Anamika and Pusa Makhamali are popular varieties of okra grown in South India.
Planting and Irrigation: Okra is planted by direct sowing of seed at 2 to 3 cm depth with a spacing of 30 cm . between two rows and 15 cm between two plants in line. The summer crop can be sown during January-February and the rainy season crop during June- July followed by irrigation. In the summer months, the plant should
be regularly watered.
Plant Protection: Thrips and fruit borers are the major insect pests, and the powdery mildew and yellow vein mosaic are the major diseases of okra. Thrips suck sap from leaves and the stem while the fruit borer bore holes into the fruit and eat its internal parts. This insect pest can be controlled by spraying neemseed extract and hand picking fruit borer larvae and affected fruits and destroying
them. Powdery mildew is a fungal disease of okra that creates whitish
fungal powder on leaf surfaces damaging leaf lamina tissues. It can be controlled by dusting sulphur powder on the leaf lamina. Yellow vein mosaic is a viral disease that can be controlled by killing insect attacking the crop.
Harvesting: Okra plant starts giving fruits within 50 to 60 days of sowing of the seeds. Five to 6 cm long full grown but still tender fruits are harvested by hand picking or cutting with a sharp knife or a pair of scissors. Harvesting can be continuing in 10 to 15 pickings in 1.5 to 2.0 months.